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Hey, I've got an idea!!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by fourstringbliss, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    It's not the most original idea, but it's going to help me to kill two birds with one stone. I've got this bass:


    The pickups are Nordstrand Big Splits and the preamp is an Audere Classic 4-band.

    I've been jonesing for a Sterling bass because of the location of the MM pickup and had thought about building my own. All of the other MM style basses I've played seem to have the MM pup too close to the bridge to get the sound I'm looking for.

    Then it hit me...

    I could put a Nordstrand MM4 pickup in between the Big Splits on this bass! It would fit with about 1/4" on either side and would be just a little longer than the BS's. That spot is pretty close to the "sweet spot", but even if it's a little off it would still sound good.

    I was thinking I could wire up the two BS's to a mini toggle switch as a pickup selector switch and then connect that switch to the pre as the "neck" pickup. That way I could still select just the BS's and choose which one I wanted soloed or have both on. The MM pickup would be connected to a mini toggle for coil tapping and then connected to the pre as the "bridge pickup". I could have either or both of the BS's on at the same time as any combination of MM coils were on.

    I'd have to remove the rosewood thumbrest I brilliantly superglued in between the BS's, but most of that damage would be routed out anyway for the MM pup. I guess the upside is that the MM pup would then be in the same spot I like to anchor my thumb when I play.

    What do you think?
  2. lowendgenerator


    Mar 26, 2006
    Much cheaper than building one out of Warmoth parts lol. Go for it. I think it would look/sound badass.
  3. Need2KnowBasses


    Aug 30, 2010
    I know nothing about wiring but I think it would look cool.
  4. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    This is kind of a crude job but this is about what it would look like:


    (minus the little white arrow toward the top) :meh:
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    that would drive me nuts to not have a clear shot to the wood with my fingers, but i guess if you like ramps, it would be cool.
  6. FunkyMan


    Nov 27, 2007
    Forget it, you will want a ramp in the near future :bag:
  7. I know nothing about what the other bird of which you speak could be, but if this is what you want to do, I say go for it! Cheers.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    if the only basses i could find were basses with ramps, i would quit playing bass. most irritating darn thing i ever played was that gary willis bass with the ramp. how the heck can you dig in and play heavy when you need it? never understood wanting to play so lightly all the time where you'd want a ramp to prevent playing any heavier.

    then again, there's a lot of stuff i don't understand, and i guess i don't need to understand it ;) but still, not for me, those ramps.
  9. Basshoofd


    Jan 14, 2009
    Do it!

  10. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    That's encouraging! That's pretty much the sound I'm looking for tone wise, so I should be able to get something similar with what I want to do. It'll be fun to work out all of the wiring as well.
  11. ericw


    Aug 19, 2009
    Hagerstown, MD
    Haha.. can't somebody help us all out with a decent photoshop?! I say go for it man, I think it'd be sweet.

    What controls would you have? I'd probably do a vol/blend for the singles, a vol for the MM, and then send it all through the preamp. Use 1 stacked knob and you wouldn't even add any holes... Sick! :hyper:
  12. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I have an Audere Classic 4-Band preamp in there and the blend control is active - you get a true scan across the pickups because they connect to the preamp in stereo. I would connect the Big Splits to a SPDT mini-toggle as a pickup selector switch and then connect that to the pre as the "neck" pickup. I've got to contact the guys at Nordstrand for wiring suggestions on the MM4 pup, but I would probably use a DPDT mini-toggle to give parallel/single-coil/series options and then connect that to the pre as the "bridge" pickup. All I would have to do as far as controls is drill a couple of holes for the new switches.

    This way I could chose which BS pickup I want and which MM4 option I want and blend the sounds together, or just use the BS's, or just use the MM4. The pre has treble, high mid, low mid, and bass controls.

    It should be a monster if everything works out the way I think it should. Imagine both BS's on and the MM4 in series at the same time!
  13. I did this exact mod (well very very close) on a yamaha 5 string where I squeezed a bartolini MM between the 2 single coils and wired them up to a Uretro preamp with the single coils going to 1 mini switch and into the bridge side of the blend pot and the MM doing the same into the neck side of the blend. this allows me to get some interesting coil combinations however I will say that the tonal difference between the MM and singles isn't huge (probably due to barts and yamaha pickups running blade magnets) but it's subtle enough for tone geeks to notice. i'm sure with the different magnet types and wider spread of the pickups yours will sound a lot more noticably different. One last thing, don't neglect to try the all on tone with all pickups on full and blend pot centred, for me it produces a nice balanced and even tone, very little aggression but great for a full yet defined tone :) enjoy it and go for it!!
  14. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    My main concern here is that the new MM4 pup would sound different enough to make it worth the trouble and expense. I'm trying to get an answer to this question over on the Nordstrand forum - I figure they'd know since I'd be using all Nordy pups.
  15. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    And, here's Carey Nordstrand on the topic:

    "I think this is a pretty cool idea. I also think the MM would sound different enought to make it worth it. For sure.

    I'd recommend a series parallel switch at the minimum. Might be nice to have the single coil setting too though to be able to blend it with the Big Splits. You might have phase issues, but it would be as simple as switching the black and white wires on the Splits to fix it.

    I'd also recommend the 4.2 if you want the best possible old school MM tone.

    Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!

    I'm doing it!!
  16. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    Okay, I need some advice here.

    You know the project I'm wanting to do here. Carey Nordstrand thinks the pickups in question should sound sufficiently different from each other that it'll be worth doing (and he should know!). Am I likely to get a thick, aggressive tone I get from newer Stingrays from the MM4.2 or the textured detailed tone I seem to get from older Sterlings? The Sterling I played a local GC was an older US model and the tone was open, detailed, burpy, and clear.

    I also have another dilemma. I've been in the process of gathering materials to make a Jazz Bass but this project I have in mind here just might give the the only bass I need for my purposes. I'm not a professional and probably never will be, so I don't need a stable full of basses. As it is I can get a tone VERY close to a Jazz Bass on this BTB by rolling off high and low mids, and boosting treble and bass on the Audere pre. As soon as I realized that I could put an MM pup in my BTB instead of saving up for a Sterling I realized that this might mean the Jazz I'm making might not get that much playing time. I'm now not sure if I can justify the time and added expense (getting the body drilled for the bridge, getting the neck drilled for the bolt holes, the oil and sandpaper for finishing the body) if this bass is going to sit in its case once I get the MM pup in my BTB.

    What would you do?
  17. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    Well, the decision's been made and I'm in the process of selling off the parts-jazz parts and moving forward with this project. Right now I'm working with the guys at Nordstrand to decide whether I should go with the MM4.2 (dual coil MM) or the MM4.4 (quad coil MM). The 4.2 is supposed to be pure pre-EBMM Stingray, but would hum with a coil soloed. The 4.4 would be a bit darker than the 4.2 but wouldn't hum in single coil mode. I'm thinking I might just go with the 4.2 to get pure old-school MM.

    There's a bass builder here in my town who has a CNC router and is willing to route out the pickup cavity for $40! This should all be finished by Christmas (routing, shielding the cavity, installing the pickup, doing the wiring). Then I can post some sound clips.
  18. RonChase


    Aug 15, 2008
    if thats what you want then you shoud do it,I myself would put a pickup surround around that middle pickup though
  19. Part of the theory behind Gary's technique is that dB are based on a logarithm. Relatively speaking, when you use his technique, you don't need to dig in as hard because the normal technique is much quieter and allows the change to be heard much easier. Not sure if that makes much sense since I haven't had my 2nd cup of coffee yet.

    An alternative to ramps could be radiused pickups. An advantage here is that you can fine tune the pickup height much easier than most ramps since it's rare that most guys will have the ramp bolted on.

    If you can't get radiused pickups, I've been very happy with my 1/2 ramp. It allows me to have a ramp, but still utilize some open space between pickups if I want/need it. The downside is that there needs to be some routing.


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